What's the secret to growing your staffing agency?
(UPDATED: January, 2021) - Is providing great "value" enough? Think about it through the eyes of your prospective customers - people who haven't worked with your agency yet. They don't know your sales reps from the next agency's, and/or who have NO IDEA how valuable your staffing services actually are.
Will they think that your value proposition is fresh and exciting? ... your textbook, cookie-cutter response of being a (fill-in-the-blank)? And, most importantly, is it true? IS your agency really all that different from the rest?
How to staffing agencies get clients by being "different?"
Does it mean hiring people with different hairstyles? Bigger beards? Stronger personalities?... The best balance of aggressiveness, politeness, firm-handshakeness, independence, etc? Or is it something much deeper than all of those, and actually a core issue that we're dealing with?
Your sales team is just step 1; they open the door. To truly stand out, and subsequently close and fill more deals, YOU need to make the pitches coming from their mouths true.
The industry, although an infant in the grand scheme of things, is maturing. It survived 2 major economic collapses, soared to incredible heights, and bounced around in everything in between. All signs continue to point to a bright future, but it's more crowded than ever. Competitors are popping up everywhere, and they're starting with the distinct advantage of having a clean slate.
Whatever you think it means to be different, recycling yesterday's tricks isn't it. I can't remember the last time a client or prospect bragged to me about how great cold calling is working for them.
It's the internet's fault. And yours.
Your clients now follow their favorite recruiters and AEs on LinkedIn. So ,when you fire somebody or they quit, they easily take that relationship with them. (Admit it, sometimes you feel like you're better at creating competitors than value)
And what on earth is more important to staffing agency/client success than relationships?
Your transient employees don't even have to try... No printing off customer lists or snapping off pictures of their pipeline with their phones days before they quit ... nothing devious. They are more connected than you, and they take that relationship with them without giving it a second thought. If they do put energy into it later, it's not like businesses are hard to find these days. Ever hear of Google?
This disconnect you're having with your clients was always a problem, but customers stayed because of convenience. Now that the internet is so inconveniently keeping those relationships alive between old staff and your most important clients, you no longer have the room to rest on your laurels.
You create a vacuum when you do nothing to differentiate your agency from the top down. You're just another sales outfit getting swallowed in a sea of wannabes, saying you put clients first, but in reality just taking the path of least resistance.
That's a problem in my book.
READ MORE LIKE THIS:
- 5 Business Growth Strategies Every Staffing Agency Needs
- The Growth Guide for Staffing Agencies
- The Guide to Getting Started with Inbound (Why it works)
- Inbound Lead Generation Playbook for Staffing Agencies
1. Your Mission
I remember a great conversation I had with the owner of a highly reputable National staffing agency about what it means to separate the science and the religion of a company, and how important it is to the growth of any organization to do so.
The religion: This is your mission, vision, and values, or what makes your company YOUR company. Its core never changes (although the way you articulate it will), even in the face of pessimism or pressure to stand out. This is why you do what you do and why your company is the answer to your customer's biggest staffing dilemmas.
The Science: These are the components of your business that are often technical in nature, and if they don't change, the world passes you by. They include your applicant tracking systems, modes for connecting, marketing investments, and tools that support your sales strategies. They directly support the religion, but they are interchangeable, and should often be re-evaluated.
This particular agency had always been revered for its genuine commitment to the values that were present in its mission statement. In addition, they also hired great talent, and provided excellent ongoing training to sales reps and recruiters.
To top it off, they had delivery tools that proved beyond a doubt that they were committed to providing the very best service possible.
In all - their success came from being different (religiously AND scientifically).
So, today I'm not actually suggesting that you change who you are, but rather, to look at the experiences you are creating for your clients through the tools and strategies you are deploying, and asking yourself if you're being perceived the way you want to be.
Does the rest of the world see you as YOU do? Have you made it impossible for them not to?
2. Your Technology Stack:
In prior iterations of this article, I actually put Marketing (specifically, inbound lead generation) in this spot. But by prioritizing it over infrastructure, it becomes all to easy to overlook the importance of the latter. After all, who needs process when you're being inundated with inbound leads???
The answer: Anybody who wants to close more deals.
This isn't a "shit-in-shit-out" analogy. Inbound leads tend to be significantly more valuable than outbound leads. However, they aren't the "end-all, be-all" solution to reaching your growth objectives.
They're the first step in a two-step process.
Ask yourself this -
- What's the process for handling inbound leads, and how does it differ from how you treat leads from other sources?
- How do you hold sales accountable for their role in closing inbound leads?
- Where does your most important sales data live? Excel?
- How do you determine what's working and what's not?
- What do your clients see, and how does it make your agency different?
If those questions were hard to answer, it's because something is missing. Either it's a process issue or technology or both. My money is on both, because I don't think you can really separate the two in this day and age.
By nature, CRM's are the worst, because they don't address this issue head-on. They're cumbersome management tools forced into the hands of people who wither and die when they're not selling.
I don't care if it's Salesforce.com. I don't care if it's an industry leader like... Bullhorn...
They weren't built for sales, and they're still not. Modern CRM's are.
- Automating data entry
- Automating administrative tasks, such as scheduling
- Bridging sales and marketing activities into a single timeline
- Providing insights to sales when and where they need them - through automation and machine learning, combined with minimal manual input
- Innovative client-facing tools, like video
The goal is to improve sales performance. By removing the clutter from your sales teams' vision, you enable your most expensive employees to sell more.
3. Your Lead Sources
Where do you get the leads that you supply to sales? Are they warm, cold, hot, somewhere in between, or some new temperature we haven't discovered yet?
If you're not supplying your AEs with leads, are you then relying on them to source opportunities? Where are they finding leads? Public job boards like Careerbuilder.com or Indeed? ... the same exact place every other staffing agency is hunting?
I get heart murmurs just thinking about it... blech.
If you want to learn how to grow a staffing agency in a manner that is modern and that puts you in control, try this...
Inbound marketing... or "Inbound lead generation"
Instead of supplying your sales teams with the same exact purchased lists or Bullhorn reports as every. single. competitor. of yours... you can actually cut through the noise, and help them find you.
After slogging through 8 hours of cold calling and job board crashing 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year, I'm willing to bet that your sales people will welcome a steady flow of leads where hiring managers are actively engaged with your brand... where job orders land before they publish their openings.
That kind of commitment is sure to garner loyalty from your top performers... who are always begging for more support. It's also sure to land more exclusive opportunities and more motivated buyers.
Bring leads to you. Be different. And don't forget the inbound staffing sales training.
By ratifying your mission, upgrading your technology stack, and diversifying your lead sources, you can truly elevate your staffing agency. You will be able to improve performance at every level, measure success, and hold people objectively accountable to reasonable and exciting outcomes.
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